Sunday 22 October 2017

Wales submit squad to cryotherapy in bid to be fit to face England

George North, bottom, is struggling to be fit to play England at the weekend after hurting his leg during Wales' victory over Italy. CREDIT: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
George North, bottom, is struggling to be fit to play England at the weekend after hurting his leg during Wales' victory over Italy. CREDIT: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Oliver Brown

In a move that underlined the magnitude of Saturday’s Six Nations confrontation with England, Wales players spent the hours after their victory in Rome in a cryotherapy chamber, withstanding temperatures as cold as -250 degrees Fahrenheit to help hasten their recovery from injury.

Convinced they had not a moment to lose, given the rapid six-day turnaround between their games against Italy and England, the team boarded a charter flight out of Rome on Sunday evening and travelled straight to their training base in the Vale of Glamorgan to undergo the extreme therapy in the middle of the night.

Cryotherapy is designed to ward off inflammation through the draining of lactic acid, and the Welsh Rugby Union spent up to £40,000 on the private flight to ensure players underwent the treatment. The list of walking wounded was extensive, with first-choice fly-half Dan Biggar nursing a torso injury and George North facing a struggle to be fit for England after hurting his leg.

“A couple of the boys need an extra day or to recover,” said Rhys Webb, who has himself just returned from ankle surgery. But the scrum-half indicated that Wales’ confidence had been restored by the 33-7 victory at the Stadio Olimpico, coming after an unconvincing autumn campaign in which they had lost heavily at home to Australia. “It’s a very positive environment to be in, a very happy one. It is good to see the smiles back on people’s faces.”

On Tuesday Rob Howley, the head coach, intends to lead an in-house analysis session on the threat posed by England, but Webb suggested Wales would not be distracted by any talk of a grudge match, despite Eddie Jones’ claim that his men were “petrified” of playing in Cardiff. “There’s a lot of talk about England, as they played some great rugby over the autumn, but we are concentrating on ourselves,” he said.

Wales face a major selection dilemma in the back three if North is ruled out, with the possibility that Leigh Halfpenny could be shifted to the wing. Halfpenny was instrumental at full-back in the triumph over Italy, converting six of his seven shots at goal.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport